Saturday, 10 December 2011

Home and Away with UCMMA

It’s time to step into the world of Dave O’Donnell’s Ultimate Challenge MMA once again, but this time it’s going to be a little different as I give you two reviews for the price of one, a review of a show that was broadcast live on the interweb, and a review of their most recent show on Sky Sports.

Let’s begin with the online show from the beginning of November, which saw the promotion hold their first overseas event at the Hard Rock Casino in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, which was part of a combined MMA/boxing show, which meant that, for obvious logistical reasons, the matches took part in a traditional four-sided ring.

The show opener saw action from the middleweight division as Miguel Bernard took on Ben Craggy.

This one didn’t last long. When Bernard went for a kick Craggy easily caught it and took the fight to the ground, and from there Craggy dominated, moving from position to position on the crowd before he took Bernard’s back for the second time and synched in a rear naked choke for the submission win.

More middleweight action followed as Richard Griffin faced Ross Pointon.

No feeling out period in this one as these two began swinging for the fences straight away, with Pointon quickly sustaining a cut above his eye.

From there the two men jockeyed for position, looking a little hampered when they tried to work the clinch against the ropes. Eventually the fight went down to the ground, where Griffin locked in a guillotine choke for the submission win.

Then it was up to the light heavyweight division as Neil Bittong went up against Iain Martell.

The only fight to make it out of the first round saw Martell beginning as if he’d been shot out of a cannon, only for Bittong to take him down. Martell soon got back to his feet but soon found himself in a clinch in one of the corners, each scoring with knees, with Martell having more success in this respect.

The end came early in the second. As Bittong went for the immediate take down there was an accidental clash of heads, with Bittong suffering a deep cut just under his left eyebrow. The fight continued for a moment or two until referee John McCarthy called the doctor in to check on the cut.

Seconds later the fight was over, with Bittong taking the decision to pull out, giving Martell the impressive win.

It was down to welterweight for the next fight as Wesley Murch faced Tim Radcliffe.

These two engaged in a clinch right from the start, working for position until Radcliffe connected with a knee to the body that staggered Murch.

Radcliffe went in for the kill with the ground and pound before taking Murch’s back and synching in the rear naked choke for the submission win.

The main event saw middleweight action with Sam Boo taking on Jamaine Facey.

Another quick encounter saw Boo going for the early take down, with Facey countering with a take down of his own. Facey then let his man up, and seconds later he connected with a knee to the temple, and after Boo went down like the proverbial sack of spuds the referee immediately called a halt to the proceedings, giving Facey the KO win in just 34 seconds.

Then it was on to last weekend’s show The Beat Down, held at their usual stomping ground in The Troxy in London, and shown on Sky Sports this past Wednesday.

The broadcast began with Miguel Bernard, making his second appearance in this review, taking on Andre McIntyre in a UK1 middleweight fight.

Bernard looked far more comfortable as a kick boxer than he did as an MMA fighter early on, coming forward with a variety of kicks as McIntyre looked like he hadn’t got across the starting line.

But it wasn’t long before McIntyre got going, focusing his attack on Bernard’s body and knocking him down twice in the first round. The onslaught continued into the second, with McIntyre sending Bernard down with an overhand right, and with the Spaniard unable to beat the ten count McIntyre secured the KO win.

After a highlights package from some of the other fights it was on to the light heavyweight fight between Earl Brown and another man making his second appearance in this review, Iain Martell.

Martell scored with the early take down, but as he looked for a comfortable position Brown did a good job defence job. But it wasn’t long before Martell re-took control, unleashing with the ground and pound, and with Brown offering nothing in return the referee stepped in to give Martell the TKO win.

The light heavyweight action continued with Ricky Campbell taking on Ben Smith.

Smith, the former heavyweight champion who looked dwarfed in most of his fights looked far more comfortable at this weight. The first round saw him scoring with the early take down and going to work with the ground and pound.

It was more of the same in the second round, with Campbell looking like a fish out of water as Smith took his back and synched in a rear naked choke for the submission win.

It was back to UK1 kickboxing for the next fight as Louis King challenged Mark Weir for the Middleweight title.

No feeling out period in this one. These two were swinging from the start, and just seconds into the fight King connected with a big left that sent Weir crashing, with the referee stepping in after just 18 seconds to give King the title wining knockout victory.

The UK1 action continued as Chris Harman took on Mark Potter for the Heavyweight title.

Harman, who looked a whole weight division lighter than Potter, came forward straight away with a front kick, only to find himself on the end of a big blow that staggered him a little.

From there it was an exciting power versus speed battle. As Harman jinked around the cage Potter connected with a number of shots that sent Harman down to the ground for the count. But Harman wouldn’t stay down, and showing the heart of a warrior he kept getting up, getting off some good shots of his own before Potter regained control with some more shots.

This was how the rest of the fight played out, and eventually the referee stepped in in the second round as Harman suffered one knockdown too many, giving Potter the TKO win and the Heavyweight title.

The main event saw Jake Bostwick challenging Denniston Sutherland for the Middleweight title.

This proved to be an intriguing fight. Both men took the upper hand at points during a clinch against the cage, with Bostwick getting a take down which Sutherland soon stood up from.

But as the first round entered it’s final stages they began to trade blows, and after Bostwick connected with a blow that staggered the champion a big left sent Sutherland falling to the ground, with the referee stepping in immediately to give Bostwick the TKO win and the Middleweight title.

In conclusion - let’s look at both shows individually.

Even though it lasted a shade over an hour the Dominican Republic show proved to be very enjoyable. Each fight delivered, with Iain Martell impressing me again (and not because he’s a Norfolk boy like me), and I really hope that their Cage Warriors counterparts UCMMA will start holding regular events overseas, although I think it would be better for them if they were dedicated MMA shows, and not combined MMA/boxing shows.

The Beat Down was also another quality show. I’m really starting to enjoy the UK1 kickboxing fights, and that was something I never thought I’d say, and the MMA action was top notch throughout.

However, after 25 shows at The Troxy I’m starting to think that perhaps it’s time for Dave O’Donnell to take the show on the road. I’m sure that there are many MMA fans all around Britain who would love to see a UCMMA show near them, and off the top of my head I can think of about half a dozen venues I’ve been to which would be perfect for them.

But getting back on topic, both of these shows get the thumbs up as two more examples of British MMA at it’s best.